Somehow when “the law” is involved, people confuse their “Fundamental Right” to parent their children with the absolute privilege and responsibility we have to be parents.
The Supreme Court determined in several cases that parents have a fundamental right to parent their children. This is important for two reasons.
1. If the two of you decide a parenting plan, no matter how crazy, is in the best interests of your child, the Court will rarely interfere with that agreement.
2. If you can’t decide, most courts, with a great amount of discretion, will often find that your child has a right to be with each of you equally. In other words, do NOT leave it to the courts!!
There is a public perception that the courts favor moms in custody and parental responsibility actions.
The reality is that the court does not care whether you are mom or dad as much as it does for your child and what is in the best interests of your child. As a parent, you can either work with your baby’s father to determine together what is in the best interest of your child or leave it to the court to decide what is best for your child.
More often than not, although this seems to be changing dramatically, mom has the compromised career, or makes the children her full-time vocation, while dad is the bread winner and less available to parent.
From a baby’s first days mom is the primary source of food for the baby. Hard to argue baby shouldn’t be with mom for that. Especially for younger children, it is mom that the children usually turn to for nurturing and comfort.
Mom is also usually taking care of doctor’s appointments, school schedules and extra-curricular activities while Dad works, even if Mom also has a full-time job.
People too often confuse the courts favoring Moths with the reality that it was her who provided the life style, routine, and level of care that the child was accustomed to in its daily life.
Generally speaking, the court’s determination of who will be the primary parent is based on who has been the primary parent during the marriage.
The courts take into consideration everything from day-to-day routines to how each parent spends their time with the child;
Does either parent have to work odd or late hours, or travel with his or her career?
Are there significant others and possibly other children that may take away from a parent’s time with his or her kids?
Does a parent have substance abuse or anger issues that prevent a healthy parenting relationship?
Are the children of an age or disposition that requires special care or consideration for parenting time?
Is one parent trying wanting to make a move which would dramatically effect the children’s environment or school and activities?
Sometimes it is human nature to think you must “win” your divorce and that is somehow equated with having more assets and the most time with your child. No one wins in divorce. The reality is, people need to view winning the divorce as getting out with the least amount of financial and emotional harm as possible.
If you worked full-time during the marriage the court’s may determine that neither parent is currently established as the primary parent so parenting time should be 50/50.
If you didn’t work and maintenance or alimony is not likely, you risk the court finding the other parent as more financially stable and therefore better able to provide a stable and better living environment for the children.
If you are the full-time parent and always have been, you may be awarded more parenting time, but what does that do to your ability to support your family moving forward as a single parent?
The question becomes, what does it mean for your kids?
The primary focus in any shared parenting situation should always be:
HOW DO WE MAINTAIN THE CHILD’S LIFE WITH THE LEAST AMOUNT OF CHANGE AS POSSIBLE?
When you enter into divorce settlement negotiations or, go to court, if you must, as long as you have your child’s best interest at heart – instead of what is best for you, your pocket book, you will prevail because your kids will move forward with the least amount of disruption as possible.
I’m not certain who said it, but, “in the end it will be okay; if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”